Many of us know the story. We’ve heard it every year on Pentecost. We’ve seen artwork depicting dancing flames on disciples heads. We’ve seen it in movies. It may be even be one of the bible stories we remember from our childhood. “Same old, same old.”
It would have been easy for me to follow the same old process I have followed for almost five years. I sit at the computer on Monday morning to write an article due on Monday night for publication the following weekend. This writer’s version of the “same old, same old.”
But this article is different. It is early Mother’s Day morning and my eyes open well before the alarm clock. No sooner than I get out of bed, an idea comes to mind. Then another. And another. The thoughts come so rapidly I race to the computer to type the outline, which quickly becomes the first draft of what you are now reading.
What sparks everything is the realization of what Mom really wants for Mother’s Day. She’d like for things to be the way they used to. My dad still alive and the two of them, doing lots of nothing - together. They would face the same problems and concerns; but they’d face them together. Mom longs for the “same old, same old.”
In the passage preceding today's Gospel John writes of Mary sitting by the tomb. She is weeping because Jesus; her master, teacher and friend is dead. It’s hard to describe the ministry of Jesus as the same old, same old but could a part of Mary be longing for just that?
In the days after Jesus rose and ascended to heaven the Apostles must have had shared the longing that many of us feel when our partner/leader is no longer present to guide, comfort and strengthen us.
This longing for the same old, same old is not limited to the disciples or to those among us who have lost a long-term partner. We all long for the same old, same old. Some people call it “the way things used to be.” Yet at the same time we long to live, grow and move forward in confidence.
This seems to be a conundrum.
But isn’t that what Jesus was talking about when He said that he would send the Holy Sprit?
Could this be why Jesus told us that He is the vine and we the branches?
Consider what my friend Greg, a wise and wonderful priest said at my Dad’s (and many other) funerals: “If our beloved Vincent is with Jesus, and we can be with Jesus in Holy Communion are we not still connected to Vincent?
Could it be that the Spirit connects us to the comforting same old, same old while at the same time breathes new life into it?
I believe that the Holy Spirit is not “either/or” but “both/and”. Thus the same old becomes the foundation for the possibilities and newness the future brings.
Pay special attention to our offertory song “Holy Spirit” by Juie Hoy (printed in today’s bulletin.) Its simple lyrics, melody and accompaniment could be described as the same old, same old. Yet, they make it possible for rich and beautiful vocal harmonies.
Congratulations to our confirmandi. I pray some of you will find your way into the ministries of our church.
Blessed to serve at St. Mary’s,